Amid repeated accusations among warring parties that one side is planning to use unconventional weapons to escalate the conflict, President Joe Biden on Tuesday urged Russia to detonate nuclear weapons. warned that it would be a “grave mistake”.
Over the past three days, the Russians have made unsubstantiated accusations that Kyiv intends to launch so-called dirty bombs that, when detonated, will scatter radioactive waste and cause terror. In response, the Ukrainian side said Moscow was creating an excuse to use nuclear weapons in a war it was losing on the battlefield.
Mr Biden said it was not clear if the Kremlin would be preparing for a nuclear strike, but reiterated earlier warnings from his administration against such a move.
“If Russia were to use tactical nuclear weapons, it would be making an incredibly grave mistake,” Biden said. “I have not yet guaranteed that it was a false flag operation, but I don’t know, but it would be a big, big mistake.”
Earlier in the day, a Ukrainian nuclear energy operator said it was carrying out clandestine work at the Russian military-occupied Zaporizhia nuclear power plant.
Drone shot down in Ukraine:It is reported that up to 85% of Russia’s killer drones have been shot down in Ukraine.live update
>Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has accused the US-led West of increasing arms supplies and providing intelligence to the Kyiv regime to “destroy our centuries-old nation-state.” .
► Norwegian internal security officials said they had detained a man suspected of being a Russian spy who entered the country as a Brazilian citizen.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has arrived in Kyiv for his first visit to Ukraine since the Russian invasion began. “I want to send a signal of solidarity to the Ukrainians,” he said. In April, Ukraine revealed Steinmeier was not welcome because he had previously supported close ties with Russia, but he later said it was a mistake.
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Progressive Democrats drop demand for Biden to negotiate end to Russia’s war
Faced with rapid backlash over their timing and message, 30 progressive House Democrats on Tuesday retracted a letter they sent the day before urging President Joe Biden to negotiate an end to Russia’s war in Ukraine. .
Two weeks before the midterm elections, with Russia increasingly desperate to reverse course on the battlefield, the letter appeared to undermine US support for Ukraine, giving Biden an “aggressive We will pursue a diplomatic push and redouble our efforts to seek a realistic framework for a ceasefire.” ”
Many fellow Democrats and Ukrainian officials, who have said Russian President Vladimir Putin has no intention of negotiating in good faith, condemned the letter and prompted a surprising reversal. It claims that it is up to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to decide the terms of the peace deal.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington, chair of the Progressive Caucuses, said in a statement that the letter was written months ago and needs further review before it can be made public. She also tried to steer that content away from Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s comments last week that Republicans would not give Ukraine a “blank check” if they retake the House.
“The proximity of these statements is the strong and unanimous support of the entire package of military, strategic and economic aid to the Ukrainian people, and the Democrats who voted for it are trying to stop America’s aid. It created the unfortunate appearance of being in some way aligned with Republicans, for President Zelensky and the Ukrainian military,” Jayapal’s statement said.
Ukraine destroys Russian attack helicopter
The UK Defense Ministry said in its latest war assessment that Russian attack helicopters were being attacked by Ukraine’s portable air defense system.
At least 23 Russian Ka-52 HOKUM attack helicopters have been confirmed lost in Ukraine since the invasion, more than 25% of Russia’s fleet of 90 aircraft. Dozens of other helicopters were also shot down.
“Russia has failed to maintain sufficient air superiority to ensure effective (aircraft) support near the front lines,” the assessment said. “And the shells are running low on ammunition.”
Russian commanders are likely to rely on high-risk attack helicopter missions as one of the few options available to provide close support to troops in combat, the assessment said.
White House condemns ‘fake’ Russian appeal hearing in Griner case
A Russian court dismissed an appeal that sentenced Britney Griner to nine years in prison for drug possession, the WNBA basketball star said, “today, too, I had to undergo a sham judicial process and find myself in an intolerable situation.” They will remain unjustly detained,” said National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. .
Mr Sullivan said the government continued to talk to Russian authorities about possible prisoner exchanges and praised Mr Griner’s family for their “courage in the face of unimaginable circumstances”.
Professor Carl Tobias of the University of Richmond School of Law said the Russian court offered a speedy resolution, unlike the appeals process in the US federal court.
“Griner’s best hope seems to be some form of prisoner exchange with Russia,” he said.
Griner, who appeared in court in the Moscow region via a video link from her detention cell, said police found an e-cigarette canister containing cannabis oil in her luggage at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport. He was later arrested on February 17th. The 32-year-old Griner said she had inadvertently packed her things in a hurry and had no intention of her crime.A week after her arrest, Russia invaded Ukraine and U.S.-Russia relations nearly fell apart. Efforts to release her have been complicated by the drop to historic lows.
IAEA inspects two Ukrainian nuclear sites after ‘dirty bomb’ claims
International Atomic Energy Agency head Rafael Grossi said the agency was preparing to inspect two Ukrainian nuclear facilities amid Russia’s allegations that Ukraine was developing a “dirty bomb”.
Ukraine requested inspections after nuclear energy company Energoatom claimed Russia was conducting unauthorized construction work near the spent dry nuclear fuel storage facility at the Zaporizhia plant. Energoatom warned that destroying the containers stored there could create radiation contamination over hundreds of square miles.
Chechen leader wants Ukrainian cities to be ‘wiped off the face of the earth’
The head of the Kremlin-backed Russian region of Chechnya said Russian forces should destroy Ukrainian cities in retaliation for Ukrainian shelling of Russian towns along the border.
Authorities in the Kursk and Belgorod regions of Russia have reported that Ukrainian shelling damaged infrastructure and residential buildings. Ramzan Kadyrov said in a Telegram that “whole cities should be wiped off the face of the earth so that they do not think that if a shell flies into our area, they can fire in our direction.” .
Kadyrov has frequently criticized Russia’s military efforts. Earlier this month, Kadyrov said he should dismiss General Alexander Lapin after withdrawing from the Donetsk region city of Raiman.
Kadyrov wrote on Telegram: “If I had done it my way, I would have privately demoted Lapin, stripped him of his awards and sent him to the front line to wash his shame away with his rifle in his hand.”
Contributed by Associated Press